Archives of Dermatological Research

, Volume 288, Issue 4, pp 197–202 | Cite as

Turnover and kinetics of epidermal langerhans cells and their dendritic precursor cells in experimental contact dermatitis

A correlated ultrastructural-morphometric and immunohistochemical evaluation
  • Gerhard Kolde
Original Paper


The numerical density of epidermal Langerhans cells (LCs) in contact sensitivity and toxic contact dermatitis is still a matter of controvery, mainly due to changes in the phenotypic markers of this antigen-presenting cell during the skin reactions. Since the electron microscopic detection of Birbeck granules is the most reliable marker for the identification of normal and pathologically altered LCs, we performed an ultrastructural-morphometric time-course analysis to evaluate their epidermal turnover in the earskin of BALB/c mice after painting the ears with the hapten 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene and the irritant croton oil. The counts revealed degeneration and depletion of epidermal LCs in both allergic and toxic dermatitis. In contrast, a slightly increased number of activated epidermal LCs was found during contact sensitization. All experimental procedures resulted in an enhanced immigration of so-called indeterminate dendritic cells which also became ultrastructurally activated and often showed Birbeck granule-like formations at their cell membrane. Immunohistochemistry with the monoclonal antibody 4F7, a new marker for dendritic precursor cells of LCs, demonstrated a significant increase in these accessory cells in the epidermis. Our results indicate that contact sensitivity and toxic skin reactions are characterized by complex but distinct changes in the turnover, kinetics and cellular properties of epidermal LCs and their dendritic precursor cells.

Key words

Langerhans cell Indeterminate dendritic cell Dendritic cell marker 4F7 Contact sensitivity Toxic contact dermatitis 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerhard Kolde
    • 1
  1. 1.Rudolf Virchow Clinics, Department of DermatologyFree University of BerlinBerlinGermany

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